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McElligott (Absolutely Not) is a triple threat: a sturdy storyteller, a stylish draftsman and a thoughtful wit who makes math funny. Eight animal guests devour the cake served at the lion's royal feast, each taking half of what's on the plate as it is passed; by the time it reaches the lion king, his portion has been reduced to crumbs. The virtuous ant volunteers to make amends by baking a cake, whereupon the others, anxious not to be shown up, successively double her offer, finally reaching a bid of 256 peanut-butter pound cakes from the elephant (McElligott lays out all 256 as a visual aid). The math content enriches the story but doesn't overshadow the hero, the gentle and considerate ant. Grids and square panels of diminishing size used as design elements reinforce the content and are attractive in their own right; subtle grids can be found within the compositions as well. Able characterizations multiply the laughs; the gorilla, in sunglasses, looks a lot like Jack Nicholson. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.